Sacred Music

I have definitely been processing a lot of ‘stuff’ these past few weeks and I guess life is a a series of stuff to process. Sometimes music and painting are the perfect alchemy to help discharge feelings that need assimilating, transcending, shifting and moving. In particular sacred music for me is absolutely essential. Bach and Mozart are my beloved go-to composers and I find the Bach’s the St Matthew Passion, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Requiem are beyond anything I can describe. Music definitely exists in another realm, not of the physical or material, but of the metaphysical, etheric, transcendent, spiritual, non-local, sacred.

At Christmas my parents used to play Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and I made it something my kids listened to when we decorated the Christmas tree each year.  My son and I listened to it yesterday as we untangled the mass of lights and he was very kind in his allowing.  He towers above me now, and as I hugged him, the music held us, slowing time and I notice his breathing slowed to a calm even rhythm, as it did when he was a babe in arms.  The Boar’s Head Carol by Steeleye Span reminds me of my Dad so much and watching him singing with his folkie friends in the Royal Standard in Hastings, where they would all take turns to sing a rousing or bawdy song, accordion or beer glass in hand.  My mother sang madrigals and many times as a child I went to watch her and her group perform, perched on uncomfortable church pews.

In the current political climate, and the insidious age of social media which has caused so much polarisation, binary thinking and the demise of nuance, I feel very inclined to hibernate, reflect on what is important and let music carry me.  I feel I am pulling back and retreating from the world a little. Pulling back to go forward eventually perhaps, but also to appreciate the space which I am holding for myself and loved ones. Winter is often not an easy time, but if I choose to, I can fully accept it and allow it to paradoxically be the time of great ease and acquiescence.

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Peacocks, Peonies and Pomegranates

My painting, also available as a print in any size. Inspired by an Yves Saint Laurent wallpaper.  In my etsy shop.  Link here:  https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AliceMasonArtist

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Beck

Beck

It is all one chase.

Trace it back: the source

might be nothing more

than a teardrop

squeezed from a curlew’s eye,

then follow it down

to the full-throated roar

at its mouth:

a dipper strolls the river

dressed for dinner

in a white bib.

The unbroken thread

of the beck

with its nose for the sea,

all flux and flex,

soft-soaping a pebble

for thousands of years

or here

after hard rain

sawing the hillside in half

with its chain.

Or here,

where water unbinds

and hangs

at the waterfall’s face,

and just for that one

stretched white moment

becomes lace

Simon Armitage

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Beaten Track at the Printworks

What a wonderful night! Such a therapy. Sometimes music is even more important to me than art. But it really does depend on the music and what lifts me or inspires me, puts me in a state of bliss or rapture can be so many genres, but when it comes to dancing or hitting that sweet spot to get me moving it’s got to be the complexity, nuance and fusion of jazz chords and latin grooves, afro-Brazilian and jazz funk. My wonderful daughter Eleanor and her gorgeous Irish DJ friends Gavin O’Brien and Jeff Higgins have formed a collective called Beaten Track where they curate a night of young jazz dance bands, neo soul singers, and fantastic jazz, latin or Afrobeat tracks on vinyl to dance away our winter blues into the early hours. I love that idea of getting jazz out of the staid jazz clubs and onto the dance floor! Last night was people of all ages enjoying themselves together, taking a break from the current political climate and loving music together.

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Wallpaper

Wallpaper in Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge’s Apartment Rue Bonapart, Paris, France, 1970s.

I am going to paint a version of this as a large panel.

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Pink Moon Blue Night

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November

Cul de Sac

Stuck in a holding pattern

Like a plane over Gatwick

Waiting to land

Waiting to take off

 

Listening to music as I paint

I notice all the music is sad

Little Green

Telegraph Road

 

Never liked November

It always seems so unreasonable of me to hate bonfire night and fireworks

Standing outside in cold damp leaf-strewn spaces

 

It was okay when it was just my Dad setting off a catherine wheel against the shed

Because everything was always alright

With my beautiful Dad

Who died in November 95

At only 55

 

Such a beautiful man

Handsome, tall, musical, adventurous, funny, mercurial,

He was sui generis

A rare soul

 

Cliff

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Recent paintings

Benediction and The Dreaming

In my Etsy shop.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AliceMasonArtist

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For L

My beloved Louisa. We were the self-declared Hexagonal groupies. Oh to find someone who loved jazz and music as much as I and to feel such emotion, passion and excitement for it. How we giggled and sparkled in each other’s company and rustled up roll ups from your tobacco kept in a unused dog poo bag!

The ‘FILO’ will never be the same without you and I will always see your beauty and feel your presence and joy when listening to the music we both loved.

To think we were dancing at a Ceilidh in July! Sitting on the balcony in the late afternoon sunshine overlooking the fishing boats and laughing and talking and drinking white wine.

In June or July you looked so happy, ecstatic and ran into my arms like a child. So full of joy. You had met someone special.

We fall in love with our friends. I certainly fell for you. I can hear your sweet voice and see your exquisite eyes with so much magic and empathy combined.

Of course you didn’t complain about your pain. You always wanted to look after everyone else.

I loved you deeply L. I hope you knew. I hope you know. You are free now, dancing with the music angels and now you can soar and glide.

I just love you beautiful. So very much.

Here are a mermaid and an angel for you.

For us, my sweet geranium.

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Excerpt from chapter ‘The Blue of Distance,’ from ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’ by Rebecca Solnit.

Re-reading Rebecca Solnit’s  ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’, and the chapter The Blue of Distance. How she writes about the effect of geography on the psyche, the beauty of longing to be lost in a landscape where you have no anchor, the melancholy of absence, which is a kind of sadness and joy combined. The relationship to place which is often deeper than that to people, and how nomads have very stable relationships to place and very fixed circuits. Interwoven with allusions to music, art, stories from her life, this book is perfection to me.

‘The places in which any significant event occurred become embedded with some of that emotion, and so to recover the memory of the place is to recover the emotion, and sometimes to revisit the place uncovers the emotion.  Every love has its landscape.  Thus place, which is always spoken of as though it only counts when you’re present, possesses you in its absence, takes on another life as a sense of place, a summoning in the imagination with all the atmospheric effect and association of a powerful emotion.  The places inside matter as much as the ones outside.  It is as though in the way places stay with you and that you long for them they become deities – a lot of religions have local deities, presiding spirits, geniuses of the place.  You could imagine that in those songs Kentucky or the Red River is a spirit to which the singer prays, that they mourn the dreamtime before banishment, when the singer lived among the gods who were not phantasms but geography, matter, earth itself.

There is a voluptuous pleasure in all that sadness, and I wonder where it comes from, because as we usually construe the world, sadness and pleasure should be far apart.  Is it that the joy that comes from other people always risks sadness, because even when love doesn’t fail, morality enters in; is it that there is a place where sadness and joy are not distinct, where all emotion lies together, a sort of ocean into which the tributary streams of distinct emotions go, a faraway deep inside; is it that such sadness is only the side effect of art that describes the depths of our lives, and to see that described in all its potential for loneliness and pain is beautiful?  There are songs of insurgent power; they are essentially what rock and roll, an outgrowth of one strain of the blues, does best, these songs of being young and at the beginning of the world, full of a sense of your own potential.  Country, at least the old stuff, has mostly been devoted instead to aftermath, to the hard work it takes to keep going or the awareness that comes after it is no longer possible to go on.  If it is deeper than rock it is because failure is deeper than success.  Failure is what we learn from, mostly.

All those summer drives, no matter where I was going, to a person, a project, an adventure, or home, alone in the car with my social life all before and behind me, I was suspended in the beautiful solitude of the open road, in a kind of introspection that only outdoor space generates, for inside and outside are more intertwined than the usual distinctions allow.  The emotion stirred by the landscape is piercing, a joy close to pain when the blue is deepest on the horizon or the clouds are doing those spectacular fleeting things so much easier to recall than to describe.  Sometimes I thought of my apartment in San Francisco as only a winter camp and home as the whole circuit around the West I travel a few times a year and myself of something of a nomad (nomads contrary to current popular imagination, have fixed circuits and stable relationships to places; they are far from being the drifters and dharma bums that the word nomad often connotes nowadays). This meant that it was all home, and certainly the intense emotion that, for example, the sequence of mesas alongside the highway for perhaps fifty miles west of Gallup, N.M., and a hundred miles east, has the power even as I write to move me deeply, as do dozens of other places, and I have come to long not to see new places but to return and know the old ones more deeply, to see them again.  But if this was home, then I was both possessor of an enchanted vastness and profoundly alienated.’

Rebecca Solnit

 

Painting by me.

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